Located on the dirt floor of the Hardy Murphy Coliseum, citizens from southern Oklahoma gathered for the 77th annual Carter County Free Fair.
The festivities for the fair kicked off on Tuesday when the rabbits, poultry and fair exhibits were entered into competition and judgement.
With the animals and exhibits being entered, the real start of the fair was Wednesday evening with Carter County Commissioners handing out the annual free slices of watermelon.
Commissioners Joe David McReynolds, Bill Baker and Jerry Alvord had different cutting techniques to the watermelon but all received the same results, smiles on the citizens’ faces.
McReynolds was born and raised in Ardmore, and for him the fair is always a happy time. His mother helped out in the kitchen at Hardy Murphy, cooking hamburgers and other fair foods.
McReynolds also participated in the fair activities, entering pinewood derby cars and other craft projects to be judged at the fair.
“There’s new stuff coming every year,” McReynolds said. “I still enjoy going through and seeing the different projects people have entered, from quilts and clothes to different wood projects and seeing what the gardeners have brought in.”
New to the fair this year, wives can enter a “husband calling contest” and will be judged on their ability to call their husband’s name.
Husband calling will be among the many other events taking place over the course of the week at the fair, where patrons can ride carnival rides, indulge in carnival foods  and witness other agricultural-based events.
For Baker, the county fair is a time where people can come together and fraternize over rural events and customs.
A self-described people person, fair time is always one of Baker’s favorite times of the year.
“There’s so many things, I came here with friends as a kid and came here and rode rides and all that stuff,” Baker said. “I got a lot of memories of this place.”
Originally from the West Coast, Alvord has been in the Carter County area for the last 18 years.
Though he has not been a lifelong participant in the fair like the other two board members, Alvord said growing up he attended county fairs as well.
For the past seven years, Alvord has enjoyed spending opening night of the fair passing out watermelon.
“It is about the people, and this (the watermelon) brings the people together, brings them to the table and getting us to speak to them,” Alvord said. “This keeps them coming together, the yesteryears in our society a little bit. Coming to the fair and gathering at the fair and having the fair be the first part of your thoughts. Not Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, this brings everyone together for one reason and that is what I really appreciate about this, for at least this evening here, it is about the watermelon, the kids, the fair and the animals. It is not about the politics, in what we do.”
Whatever brings people to the fair, all three commissioners hope they have a good time.
“Come for the joy, but don’t miss the people,” Alvord said. “When everyone comes here they’ve dropped what their daytime concerns are, it’s all about the watermelon and the fair itself. It is always about the people.”